Oh, my friends, amazing news! I have been musing on anime adaptations and my newer interest/reading obsession in stage play/live stage adaptions for a while now. I would LOVE to see more live stage productions of all the anime we love. Growing up and loving anime, I was a little saddened that outside the shores of Japan I didn’t have access to the stage plays and the drama CDs that Japanese fans had. I understand why–drama CDs would have to be translated for new audiences, some cultural jokes and nuance would be lost, that would be more work for English voice casts for example, and so on and so on. And stage plays have been broadcasted in limited capabilities before, and I’m happy that I’m not the only one hyped for the news of more and more exposure to stage plays outside of Japan. And the first one we’re getting is Spirited Away.
There have been decades of Sailor Moon stage plays that have reached almost cult status after all these years with rotating actress and actors with more lore and fans that I can even start to comprehend. I’ve always lovingly desired to one day see in person. The Demon Slayer productions have been wildly popular in Japan, thriving with audiences during the pandemic. Possible hot take here: I think we deserve to see anime adapted for the stage! I don’t believe that the plays are a lost art or are underappreciated. Yet, there’s a sort of magic that comes to watching a story unfold on a stage, with performers making it an experience.
Also consider that you’re watching a show! A performance! And this is a labor of love that employs so many professionals: folks in charge of music and lyrics and all the musicians that play live or were recorded. Think of the choreography and fight scene choreographers–every team behind lighting, filming, and acoustics! Vocal coaches, stage directors and the fine folks responsible for all the promo artwork and photography…so imagine my great surprise in hearing the news that one of Studio Ghibli’s beloved films and one of my personal favorites has received its first stage adaptation, filmed and coming to audiences this Spring!
GKIDS tells us “Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award®-winning animated feature film comes to life in this first-ever stage adaptation, full of dazzling sets, captivating musical numbers, and wondrous puppets of beloved characters. Adapted and directed by Tony Award®-winner John Caird (Les Misérables), two unique casts and performances were filmed during the show’s acclaimed 2022 run at Tokyo’s historic Imperial Theatre, featuring Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi as Chihiro.”
“We are thrilled to offer this unique opportunity for Studio Ghibli fans in America to experience the stage production that wowed Japanese press and audiences last year…This imaginative stage adaptation by the legendary John Caird, featuring two wonderful performances by lead actors Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, helps bring to life one of the greatest films of all time in a dazzling new way.” – GKIDS’ President David Jesteadt.
I am so hyped as Spirited Away is certainly a fave from Studio Ghibli as it remains a film that speaks to the child in me and tells her to be brave and have heart. No matter how old I get, I know that I can watch Chihiro on a grand adventure of wanting to save others but also herself and be swept away for two hours and love it every time. Every year we’re blessed with Ghibli Fest, and this is the one film I know I will always, always see, even if it is the only film I can make time to go watch. Hayao Miyazaki may have set out to make a film for children, for 10-year-olds and worked with others to make a masterpiece touching upon the innocence of childhood that reached audiences everyone of all ages. Through the child protagonist Chirhiro, she learns that growing up comes with transitions, struggles, loss, and surprise: MORE adults that won’t listen to you! Yet–she perseveres and teaches lessons all while moving forward with a mighty heart.
GKIDS tells us that the company will release two separate filmed performances of the production, starring Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, double-cast as the lead heroine Chihiro. Character actor Mari Natsuki, who voiced the sorceress Yubaba and her twin sister Zeniba in the original motion picture, returns to her original role, accompanied by voice actor Romi Park. They are accompanied by a star-studded cast of Japan’s finest actors. SPIRITED AWAY: Live On Stage was created in association with Studio Ghibli, and presented by Toho Co., Ltd. The deal was negotiated between GKIDS and Toho. GKIDS will release the stage production theatrically in spring 2023. I am so ready for my vision of more stage play adaptations of anime and animation from Japan being accessible for more audiences and for Spirited Away to be the first filmed versions that I’ll be able to see on the big screen in theaters come Spring!
Introduction and Synopsis
Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award®-winning animated feature film comes to life in this first-ever stage adaptation, full of dazzling sets, captivating musical numbers, and wondrous puppets of beloved characters. Adapted and directed by Tony Award®-winner John Caird (Les Misérables), two unique casts and performances were filmed during the show’s acclaimed 2022 run at Tokyo’s historic Imperial Theatre, featuring Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi as Chihiro.
While traveling to their new home, Chihiro and her family stumble into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress Yubaba. When her parents are turned into pigs and she is put to work in a magical bathhouse, Chihiro must use her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents, and return to the normal world.
Chihiro: Kanna Hashimoto/Mone Kamishiraishi
Haku: Kotaro Daigo /Hiroki Miura
No Face: Koharu Sugawara/Tomohiko Tsujimoto
Lin/Chihiro’s Mother: Miyu Sakihi/Fu Hinami
Kamaji: Tomorowo Taguchi/Satoshi Hashimoto
Yubaba/Zeniba: Mari Natsuki/Romi Park
Aniyaku/Chihiro’s Father: Kenya Osumi
Chichiyaku: Sunao Yoshimura
Aogaeru: Obata no Oniisan
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